The December Round-Up

Well, December certainly upped the celebrity death game.

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I didn't intend to open my round-up with a discussion about death, but then the universe decided to fuck with Carrie Fisher, so all bets were off. Her passing made my heart break, she meant a lot to me (and to millions of other people) and then Debbie going the day later ... your heart then breaks for Todd and Billie. 

And Gary, obviously. 



Sigh, we're done, right? Please let this be done. 

Anyway, before this shitshow happened, I did the rest of December. 



I had my work Christmas do at a few venues around London. We ended up in Lucky Voice in Soho, and if I'm honest I had no clue how it was going to go, but it was one of the best nights I'd had with my colleagues ever. It was hilarious. We all sang our little hearts out. 



I blasted through The Crown on Netflix and loved it. That show makes you up your accent game! John Lithgow as Churchill was the standout in the casting, and speaking of which: 



I went to The Churchill Arms, the most Christmassy pub in London, apparently. I went because it was my friends old local. Bloody great thai food there, too. 

Onto my favourite Christmas tradition: Brian & Robin's Christmas Compendium of Reason (which I've reviewed in previous years starting here). This year alongside brilliant science we got treated to Public Service Broadcasting and Duran Duran, it was fantastic! 



I spent Christmas in the North with my folks, which was lovely. I did lots of walking with my mum and lots of laying down, which is just what I needed. I've been fighting a cold since before Christmas and it's not giving up, but neither am I!





After that break, I went to Paris for a day to meet up with a friend who was visiting from Canada. We went to Musee D'Orsay to look at art and then to the top of the Eiffel Tour. 









It was cold but beautiful. 

Tomorrow, it's the New Year and 2017 cannot make an appearance a moment too soon. I did a lot of amazing things in 2016, so it is a great shame they've been overshadowed by bad things, I'm going to make an effort today to remember all the good things before the year ends. 

For 2017 I have hope. Hope is neccessary. A great film this year has taught me that rebellions are built on it and I think next year is the year when we'll all need to pull together as rebels and make this world a great place to be. 



Bye 2016, you goddamn shitshow. 

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Just Write: December

You know what I am? I'm that person who moans that no one blogs anymore. I mean old-fashioned blogging; a general post full of life chit-chat which allowed people a little glance into your world. I fill a lot of my end of month Round-Ups with little bits of that, but it's rarely wordy, and I LOVE being wordy. 

Being a firm believer in the expression sometimes if you want something to exist you have to do it yourself, I'm starting a old-fashioned blogging tag called Just Write, as that's what I'm going to do. Here's a post full of the things I'm doing and thinking about at the moment.




House & Home

I treated myself to a new bed base at the start of the month. I had a divan in my bedroom previously but I wanted one with space at the bottom, albeit not for the usual reasons (to start filling under the bed with things, I don't have enough things to do that, thankfully!) but to allow heat and air to circulate better around the room. My house keeps the heat in well, so it's better to allow it to circulate to feel the benefits. My old divan was creaky as hell too, which meant if I moved, it creaked. ARGH. Nothing disturbs my sleep more than a noisy bed.

Warren Evans Black Friday sales FTW. I'd been waiting for this bed to drop in price so that I could snap it up.



I have to praise this company so much. I ordered online, they called me to confirm and give me instructions about recycling my old bed. I selected my own delivery day, they gave me a 4 hour window and a courtesy call on the day to say they'd be there within the hour. To top it all off, they removed my old bed and fully assembled my new one in eleven minutes. ELEVEN!


Work

I had my annual appraisal last month and it went really well. Better than I thought it would, anyway. I've been a bit low on motivation this year at work, due to personal life stuff, redundancies and then a colleague dying, so it's understandable but not excusable. The industry I work in has been quite quiet as well, but things have started to pick up again, which is good news. My boss knows me really well (joys of spending 40 hours together each week for over 5 years) and therefore he can see when my motivation wains. He suggested I try something new and put my energy into something else over the next year, which will be hard work but ultimately very rewarding. I like learning new things and it's great to top up your CV with new experiences.


Health

After the virus from hell finally buggered off, I decided to sort my shit out health-wise. This meant actually engaging with my kitchen and doing more cooking. I have no trouble spending a Sunday night cooking nice lunches for the week, but I'm shit at cooking for myself on an evening. Really bad, like I'll just have a bowl of cereal tonight bad. So, I wrote a big list of all the things I want to eat, which is easy at this time of year as it's all comforting game meats and vegetables. I committed to making a few of these things every week so that I wouldn't get bored and would get a decent appetite back for dinner.

So far, so good. I found the recipe on the Wagamama website for my favourite of their dishes: Chilli Chicken Ramen and made that:



I started buying LOTS of venison; meatballs (braised in red wine are excellent with pasta) and sausages, I even decided to have another go at making pizza (because I'll be damned if I'm making pizzas on pitta breads, fuck that noise, I want a proper thin base):



SimplyCook had a little sale on their recipe boxes, so I got one for a bargain £1:



I like this a lot as it takes a lot of faff out of cooking. I'm a bugger for just throw some italian herbs or sriracha on it cooking, so this does actually make me stretch my repertoire, and gives me lots of ideas of how to use it outside the set recipes too. (If you'd like to have a cheap SimplyCook box you can click here and you'll get your first box for £1).


Reading

Reads recently have included Brene Brown's Daring Greatly, because everyone needs a bit of Brene's calming wisdom in their lives, Derren Brown's Happy (still plowing through this one) and I've just started The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, which is based in space and therefore I'm intensely involved in it.

Listening

My favourite new podcast in recent months is Beautiful/Anonymous, which is hosted by Chris Gethard. The premise is simple; Chris gives out a number and someone can call him for a candid chat for one hour. It's anonymous, he has no idea who the caller is, the listeners don't, it's a perfect little window into someone's life. Top episodes recently have been Fail Army Cop and Escape from a Cult.

Doing

I've started getting up a little earlier and having a longer walk to work via the park. I'm sure the extra exercise is doing me some good but mostly I just need to see some more daylight right now as it's really dark by 4pm every day. I do get to see some beautiful sunrises, though.



A little morning and lunchtime walk helps me see more daylight, keeping my Seasonal Affective Disorder at bay for a little longer. Still, the worst of it is done with now, as long as I can survive January then I can survive anything! 

I've also been working on some kind of list for 2017. Not exactly resolutions, not exactly a bucket list, something in between. A good intentions list, I guess. Places I want to go to, things I want to do, volunteering ideas, goals to achieve in my life (savings, spendings etc). I just  need something to look at and think 'the world might feel like it's in tatters, but I'm doing something about it in my life and community to make it a better place'. It's a work in progress. I might publish that next month. 

Anyway, Christmas is looming, I've a lot to write about and have been short on time to do so, hopefully I'll have some time to get all my new content up and running in the New Year. 

Mostly, after the way this year has carried on, I just need a long break. My time off this Christmas is going to be greatly appreciated. 

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The November Round-Up

I'm not going to talk about the thing that everyone has talked about this month on here, I can't bear to hear any more of it if I'm honest. It's not that I don't care about politics (if you've ever gone down the pub with me, or engaged with me on Twitter, you'll be brutally aware of how my political leanings stand), I just cannot watch everyone divide and hate. In my eyes, that's the last thing anyone should be doing and I can't help but think that segregation is what he wants. 

Nope, not in my name, and so we hunker down and crack on with November, together. 



MY TEAM WON THE FRIGGING WORLD SERIES. As it took me weeks to shift that nasty little virus, I was still on a shonky sleep schedule when the World Series games were on, so I kept waking up in the middle of the night and putting a game on. I know, not great, but I got to watch my team win and that's priceless. 



The day after this jersey arrived at my house, Kris Bryant won the NL MVP award. Perfect. 

I read a lot of comics, because I'm so addicted to Thor that it's unreal. I want to be Thor SO MUCH. 



I went to see my friend's band play a charity gig at The 100 Club



My best friend came to stay and we drank a lot of wine and did a lot of gossiping, it was great.



That was the first weekend I really started to feel better (that only took a whole 3 weeks, thanks virus) and I was able to really enjoy some nights out and some wine. Albeit, I then committed to no drinking until my Christmas party (as every drink was making me anxious) and that's been really easy. Turns out I can sit in a pub with a lime & soda and have exactly the same evening as I'd have if I was drinking. Except I sleep better, and I don't feel tired, and I don't get extra booze hunger.  

I took myself off social media this month after the US election, for the reasons I stated at the start of this post (I also don't want to look at that face until I really have to), and that's been nice. I've kept up with Instagram as that feels less anxiety-inducing and I've been making great use of Stories, so if you're missing me, come find me on there.



I finally found my powerbox for my Ikea twinkly lights and installed them in my bedroom. They're very bright, so they're a lovely contrast against my blue curtains. 



I re-started my gratitude practice, as that gives me a good positive focus and reminds me to be grateful for so many little things in life, occasionally it's good to have a little woo. 

Speaking of woo, Doctor Strange, anyone?



Cor, I loved this film. I loved the concept of spiritual powers, I loved the visuals, I loved Tilda Swinton, I of course loved Mads and I even didn't mind Cumberbatch's accent too much. 

I had a day out with my friend Martin at Leicester Space Museum, which I told you about last week.



On the space vibe, I went to see Public Service Broadcasting last week, a band I'd never heard of until I started work at the Science Museum last year. It's basically instrumental music interspersed with broadcasting noise (they do a lot of things involving space missions, or inspired by them). 


I beamed with smiles throughout this whole gig, it was wonderful. I will be seeing them again, oh yes I will.

I wrote very little this month. Sigh. I'm glad that virus has gone, it drained every bit of energy that I had for weeks. There was no writing. There was no nothing. I was coming home from work every night, eating dinner and going to bed (and sleep) at 8.30pm. There's nothing like 11 hour sleeps every night to make you feel like you're dying really slowly. I've never known anything like it, it was horrible. When I had my dentist check-up this month even my hygienist commented that I'd been brushing too fast and needed to slow down. When I told her it was the virus she gave me a pass (after giving me a strict telling off and showing me the correct way to brush my teeth for the billionth time *looks sheepishly at shoes*).

I've also decided to start a new series on my blog next month, and it's about something I complain about a lot, so it's time to do something about it! More on that soon. 

December is here and this weekend is my one free weekend until 2017. Laundry it is, then! December is always so busy with parties here and there, travelling and trying to see all your friends one last time before the year ends, speaking of which I'm going to meet one of my friends who I've known online for a good year or so at the end of December ... IN PARIS. 

I've never been. It's only a train away. I'm meeting a new friend. I'm SO excited. But more on that in the New Year.

For now, I'm just going to keep my head down, keep warm and see my friends. That, and eating Christmas cake with cheese on. HASHTAG NORTHERN.
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National Space Centre

I'm writing a quick post about this (there will be lots of photos, obvs) but did everyone know that we have a National Space Centre in the middle of the country and it's really good? 

I mean, REALLY GOOD.



There's pieces of the Moon there, and Mars meteorite, and the Union Flag that's been to the Moon, and Helen Sharman's space suits, a mock-up Columbus module from the ISS that you can run around, and, and, and ... A ROCKET CALLED THOR. 



I mean, COME ON!

You can go up the outside of the rocket, right to the top in the Rocket Tower (a good 42ft, excellent stairwell cardio).



There's lots of good learning to be done about the US and Russian space races, as well as everything that followed. There's 3D simulators of space flights and lander practice:


(Martin landed the lunar module perfectly. Twice. I crashed it. Three times. Oops.)


And a planetarium which is so good it made me feel a bit light-headed.



There's one of the only Soyuz Spacecrafts in Western Europe right behind the big doors when you go in, along with a Gemini TTV-2 Capsule:



What's really good is that it's £14 entry for an adult, with a Planetarium ticket included. If you're as much of a space nerd as I am, this is such a good day out. Go. See space history. Appreciate how TINY our little planet is in this MASSIVE universe, it's good for your perspective when it seems like society is crumbling around our ears.


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Going Minimal - One Year Later

Last year I made the decision to go minimal. In simple terms, this meant I chucked about 60% of my belongings out and I wrote about it in a couple of posts here and here.  Granted I was aware I had a house move pending at some point in the next year, but regardless, my life felt cluttered, the items were not serving me, so it was time to get rid of them.

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And you know what? It was the best decision I'd made that year. It's served me so well this year; through a house move and through another scale-back. 

I'm going to talk about how I've taken the minimal thing even further this year, and the different parts of my life that it's also crept in to. 

My Wardrobe is Relentless

SRSLY. My wardrobe has a long story behind it and with all clear outs, no one walks in and just throws *all* their shit away, it's not possible. You put a lot of money into your belongings, which makes it harder to let them go. But I'm stubborn and persistent, I promised myself by the end of this summer I'd have another good sort out. 

I'd made that terrible mistake of hanging onto things 'in case they fit me again'. Stuff that, I'll just buy them again if I ever need them. Tons of dresses and jackets went on to eBay and £200 in my Paypal later, I was free of them.

I also threw out things which were tatty (as in I'd worn to death over the last year) and anything which I'd not worn for a year (as in I didn't like it anymore). That alone filled 3 bin bags; 2 to charity and 1 for recycling. 


Where does all this come from?!


Considering I haven't bought that much clothing this year I was amazed I was getting rid of so much, but like I say, go back a revisit a few months later. You might have changed your mind about some items, might not have worn them, might have no purpose for them. If that's the case, out they go!

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

This I am back stepping on because a girl is allowed to change her mind.

I've fallen out of favour with digital versions of books, which I mentioned briefly in this post, and back in love with paper. The books have come back. 


Guarded by the girls

Albeit I'm not bulk buying, and I am sticking with 'you buy, you read' so I don't end up with a massive backcatalog, I'm borrowing more too and I'm still passing them on when I'm done with them. There are a few exceptions, but then that's life.

I also need to sort out my comics, I have a box of them to read and then get rid of. 

Spotify has My Soul

My project this winter is to convert the remaining cd's that I own to digital and then get rid of them. I haven't played a cd now for at least a year (I don't even own a stereo) so why am I hanging on to them? This is as pointless as hanging on to the VHS tapes that I still own but can't bring myself to get rid of. 


Why can't I get rid of this?? It's like a bloody horcrux


I'm also clearing out another lot of dvds and I've started buying my films in a digital format. 

It's Spread to the Kitchen

Even my food shopping has gone minimal.  I've managed to get myself into the routine of doing one massive shop monthly (hello payday!) and getting it delivered, supplementing with small one-bag shops each weekend between for fresh items, like vegetables, juice and bread. This saves me an absolute fortune, cuts down on waste and means I actually use up everything in my freezer. Remember the last time you saw the bottom of your freezer? It's not Narnia, clear the thing out. 


Buy in bulk, stick in jars. Beautiful.


As I've said before minimalism is really personal, and what is minimal to me might not be to someone else (pretty sure having 5 pairs of Converse and a box of lipsticks isn't *that* minimal) but to me it's all about having the right level of belongings in my space, not hanging on to things I don't need (or don't serve me) and being sensible with my money. I switched from a phone contract to a sim-only deal last month, which has dropped my phone bills by £20 per month (and I get more data, so it's a real bargain), little things like that add up quickly, that's £240 per year saved. 

Let's see where I am in another years time!



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The October Round-Up

It's been a bit of an odd month, October. There's been good and bad things, but I'm going to focus on the good things here as dwelling on the shit stuff never benefits anyone.




I got to see my lovely girlfriends, albeit it was brief and a bit stressful, but cuddles with your friends are cuddles with your friends, and as it turned out we all needed them.

I threw myself into my self-care routine and had lots of quiet time. I read some brilliant comics:




Watched a lot of Postseason Baseball as my team, Chicago Cubs, made it through the divisionals, won the nationals and went on to play in the World Series for the first time since 1945!


I miss you, Wrigley <3

I *might* have ordered myself a jersey with a Bryant back. Well, he's no.17, and that's my birthday :)

I did lots of cinema at the Prince Charles, and went to see some comedy, as you read about last week.

I treated myself to a 23andMe DNA collection kit and sent my DNA off to be analysed. I cannot wait to see my reports. Expect a full blog post about this at a later date.




I went for my first ever full-body hour long massage and it was absolute heaven. I'm definitely doing more of these!

I began Project: Declutter 2016 and got rid of loads of my clothes. 2 bags to charity, 1 to recycling and I sold a ton of things on eBay. I'm now such a pro at this that I even offered to help one of my friends with his decluttering. I'm strict, but it gets the job done and someone wants the help, then I will gladly offer my services.

I watched the 'cleaned up' version of Star Wars (courtesy of my mate Jim over at STACK) which made me feel like a child again! Grainy quality films FTW. 

But right now I'm at home sick with a cold virus, which is making me feel horrific, so that's my weekend plans cancelled! Ah well. 

Stuff from me this month: 



Stuff from around the internet this month: 

Twin Peaks behind the scenes of the new series video! OMG OMG OMG OMGGGGGGGG. 

Mark Frost's new book: The Secret History of Twin Peaks which is BEAUTIFUL and he's doing a Q&A in London in November. YAS!

Throwing some money at this Indiegogo project for the Twin Peaks tarot cards, I saw the design for these on one of my forums earlier this year and I'm so glad they're coming to life. 

Speaking of Kickstarters; Raised by Wolves series 3, anyone? #UpTheWolves

Fancy a GoFundMe for a feminist, body positive, burlesque show? Then go throw some spare cash at Kaila, who is getting the word out there but needs some help. 

Kate McKinnon being one of the funniest women on the planet AGAIN with *that* Presidential debate sketch on SNL.

I'm plowing my way through Barack Obama's The Audicity of Hope, as it seems like the right time to be educating myself about the US political system. 

The final Rogue One trailer because Star Wars + Mads is like seeing my dreams come true. 

I read The Girl on the Train and enjoyed it so much that I'm passing the book around everyone I know. It's short and sweet (a 4.5 hours read) but it's such a good old-fashioned whodunnit in a modern world. I've no desire to see the film though, as I don't think I'd enjoy it as much.


As you may have noticed, my post count has dropped off during the last couple of months. As I'm someone who strives for quality over quantity, this was bound to happen as I've been really busy or really relaxing. I don't write this blog for anyone but myself (but I do know people read it, a lot of people, which is awesome) so I'm currently only posting when I've got stuff to write about and the time to do so. I'm not anticipating massive publication gaps, but I'm also not anticipating a flurry of posts to fall out of my brain and onto my keyboard over the coming months. But you never know. Writing for me is a very organic process which cannot be forced, so we'll see what comes.

October went really fast, I assume that's because I felt a bit shonky for half of it, payday seemed to come around really quickly (and I still had money left, who the hell am I?!). The clocks go back this weekend (that's your gentle reminder, UK residents) and then it's SO DARK on an evening from 4pm. WAH. ::takes all vitamin D capsules::

On the upside, I've got two gigs to go to in November, a show recording, a book event and my best friend is coming to visit, so it's going to be a nice month regardless of whatever else the universe chucks at me.

Just to be clear, Universe, that wasn't an invitation to act like a dick.
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Gigs, Films and Theatre Trips

I usually just bundle all the things I've done each month into my round-up, which means they get briefly noted but I never really get to write about them in depth. So this post is a way to address that and give a bit of a run down and review of the things I've been to see over the last couple of months.


2001: A Space Odyssey 

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I don't know how you get so heavily into sci-fi and yet not see this film, and yet somehow I managed it for over three decades. It was also a film that I didn't want to watch unless it was on a massive screen, so when my friend alerted me to a showing at the Prince Charles, I jumped at the chance.

It's incredible how many references I've seen in films, album covers, tv shows and completely missed them (the subtle ones, anyway) but now so many of them make sense. Which is more than I can say for the second half of the film. I described it as a film with two halves; the first being like the most beautiful dream and the second being a complete mental breakdown. I'm happy we got an intermission before the second half to let me digest the first.


I'm glad I held out for the cinema experience with this one, though. It was beautiful. The music and visuals are so pleasing on your senses that you can't help but smile during it. 



The Libertine

I found out this was going to be on in London at the start of the summer, and my friend was way more on the ball than I was and booked tickets for September. It's a story I wasn't familiar with, but it was set in a time I'm very historically familiar with and had the added bonus of Dominic Cooper in it. Nice. 



The cast were fantastic, and freely wandered into the audience before the show in character to do a little vamping, which was very funny as the ladies were excellent at flustering the men in the audience.


Cooper played the role convincingly (enough to make me want to drink wine, anyway) and you definitely felt pity for him by the end. Give anything an edge of alcoholism and I'm always up for it, as addictions therapy is something I spent part of earlier career working in.   


Yonderland

If you're unfamiliar with Yonderland, It's a live action and puppet comedy drama written by and staring the Horrible Histories cast. 

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I went to the series 3 premier and Q&A with the cast at the BFI. We weren't told which cast members would be appearing for the panel, but even germ-infested Mathew Baynton dragged himself out from his sick bed for it, so it was a full house.



(The first full house they've managed at the BFI for any Yonderland series or Bill, yay.)

We got to see the first couple of episodes of series 3, which made me laugh so hard that I'm convinced this is going to be the best series yet. The Q&A was interesting and my favourite moment was when Mathew was telling the story of how he became friends (or at least tried desperate to) with Ben Willbond on the set of Horrible Histories; which was in the manner of a younger sibling trying to spend as much time with the cool older sibling as possible. Ben is quietly reading over lunch and Mathew lurches over and shuffles his chair up to Ben's (if you've seen Bill, think of the moment in the pub where Shakespeare meets Marlowe). Ben sighs, and says to Mathew 'you're just always *there*, aren't you?'.  


Top Gun 30th Anniversary

An impulsive one as my friend insisted the first ten minutes of Top Gun in a cinema are amazing, I hadn't seen it for year and I got free mirrored aviators for going (Prince Charles Cinema nailing it once again!). Before this, I don't think I'd watched this film for almost 20 years, and it's hilarious and awful and great all at once. It was like sing-a-long, quote-a-long Top Gun. The audience were very lively, it was a great Monday night out. 

Also nice: seeing Tom Cruise before he got his mouth filled with veneers. 

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Adam Hills: Clown Heart

I'd never even heard of Adam Hills until the 2012 Paralympics and now we cannot get the guy off our TV screens. My friend is a massive fan so she booked tickets to this gig, and it was close to home so it would have been impossible to refuse.



It was the DVD recording of the show that night, which meant we were subject to extra silliness from Adam, but it was a nice way to set the tone for the evening. The theme for the show is about not letting death have the last laugh, so as you can imagine it has some very personal stories from Adam and the people he supports, which are very moving, but these people are also kicking death firmly in the dick, which makes for some brilliant and inspiring stories. It was such a good night out, I'd recommend that show to everyone. 

He also had red, white and blue hair at the time, as he lost a bet that Australia would win more medals than Team GB would in the 2016 Paralympics. HA-HA AUSTRALIA!


And that has been my culture for the last couple of months. As usual I already have another handful of things booked, so expect more adventures on my blog soon. 

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